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Kirsty Hammond explores the world of biophilic design

According to the National Human Activity Pattern Survey, we spend ‘an average of 87% of our time in enclosed buildings and about 6% of our time in enclosed vehicles.’

Considering the above statistics show we spend 90% of our life indoors, our built environments and homes are more than just that, they are intrinsic to a healthy wellbeing.

We are all aware of the need for greener buildings and increasingly so the awareness that our health can and is impacted directly by our buildings.

Designing healthy is a more holistic view of sustainability and wellness, an approach that connects the two.

We increase our connectivity to our environment through the use of nature, space and air

Kirsty Hammond Kirsty Hammond Editor and publisher of Specifier Review

Setting the standard

The WELL Building Standard is an international system that ‘measures, monitors and certifies a series of features to promote occupant wellbeing.

It investigates seven key concepts: air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, and mind.

It is considered that the key components vital for wellbeing in buildings are as follows:

Good Indoor air quality indicates good design. Buildings that promote a poor quality of air contributors to chronic lung diseases.

Chemical emissions from building materials and even your choice of furniture can have a detrimental effect on your physical and mental health.

Think also about the odours we introduce into our homes. Paints, flooring, cleaning products and even air fresheners.

Breathe easy

Going hand in hand is ventilation, good ventilation reduces indoor pollutants and can contribute not only to health but can also increase performance.

Sick days can be reduced significantly by designing offices and workplaces with this in mind.

VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compounds. Dust and dirt within our homes can be a source.

By using a filter vacuum particles and allergens can be removed, promoting healthier breathing.

All round comfort

A contributor that we rarely consider is thermal comfort.

Thermal conditions can affect learning, cognitive performance and even sleep. Disease transmission can also surprisingly be altered.

Humidity should be an ideal 30-50%. Excess vapour contributes to mould and poor air quality.

And let’s not forget noise!

Of course we are not able to always control this but excess noise does contribute to high blood pressure, stress and in turn our mental health.

Excess noise pollution disturbs our peace, sleep and can even contribute to hearing impairment.

A good night’s sleep

As we know sleep disturbance has a profound effect on our health, the type of lighting we use and when we use it has an effect on our circadian rhythms.

Cool white light promotes alertness, Blue light positively affects mood and bright lighting in winter reduces distress and positively affects mood.

Natural daylight is pleasing to humans in many ways but also improves our sleep.

Exposure to green spaces can significantly reduce stress, this is well documented.

Being amongst nature has a positive influence on our stress levels and can be mentally healing.

Designing buildings to have a view of nature will benefit the inhabitants or even patients in a hospital setting. Our proximity to green is therapeutic.

A supportive effect

Taking all the above into consideration when building and designing will have a supportive effect on our health.

Biophilic design is a concept that can be seen in architecture throughout the ages and is linked directly to mood improvement, where the stresses and strains of life are reduced.

At its core the intention is to increase our connectivity to our environment through the use of nature, space and air.

In order to realise its true potential it is important that architects, designers and developers view Biophilic design as a valuable concept.

One that will have far reaching benefits, both for ourselves and our planet as a whole.

Kirsty Hammond is editor and publisher of Specifier Review